UT Dallas will honor student, faculty, staff and community leaders for their commitment to diversity at the eighth annual Diversity Awards Ceremony and Soirée this week.
The event will feature musical, dance and poetry selections and a video tribute celebrating 10 years of service through the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement (ODCE). Dr. Matt Polze, associate dean of undergraduate programs and accounting senior lecturer in the Naveen Jindal School of Management, will serve as master of ceremonies.
“UT Dallas is committed to becoming a nationally competitive, prominent research university. As part of this development, a commitment to enhancing diversity and community engagement is vital,” said Dr. George Fair, vice president for diversity and community engagement and dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies. “We are concerned with recruiting a diverse faculty, staff and student body, and we recognize that this can be accomplished only if we build significant partnerships with the diverse populations we serve.”
The event benefits the University’s Diversity Scholarship Program, which was created in 2010 to increase the diversity of students enrolling at the University. Performances will include the UT Dallas Chamber singers and winners of the Diversity Poetry Competition and the Bangladesh Student Association Dancers. The event also will feature food from various cultural regions of the world.
Dr. Melissa Hernandez-Katz, who teaches communications in the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication, will receive the Inclusive Excellence and Intercultural Engagement Teaching Award. She said she was honored and humbled to be recognized.
“I love being on a campus with such diversity. I love learning from the students,” Hernandez-Katz said. “I take this love and passion to the classroom where I create an environment where students will feel comfortable sharing their personal stories as well as asking questions. This helps others to understand and gain a better understanding of those around them, which creates a more comfortable, respected and inclusive environment.”
The University established the ODCE in 2007 to provide leadership for diversity initiatives. Dr. Magaly Spector, professor in practice and assistant to the provost, served as the first vice president for diversity and community engagement. Fair was appointed to the position in 2014 after Spector stepped into a new role.
The ODCE oversees a range of programs to promote diversity, including the Galerstein Women’s Center, the Multicultural Center and the Department of Community Engagement. UT Dallas has been named as one of the top 25 most ethnically diverse student populations in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report.